As we watch World Series Game 4…

…I’m reminded of how smart I am.

Just remember, fans, what I said about the Phillies’ starting pitching a few days back in my “Subjective Analysis”:

“STARTING PITCHER

PHI: Cole Hamels/Brett Myers/Jamie Moyer/Joe Blanton

TB: Scott Kazmir/Jamie Shields/Matt Garza/Andy Sonnanstine

ANALYSIS: The “experts” say Hamels is the best pitcher in the Series, and I agree. But I don’t agree with their assessments of the rest of these guys. They’re all over the Phils, saying they really have no depth beyond Hamels and that the Rays kids are flat-out awesome. Not taking anything away from them, they’re good and they faced tough competition all year in the AL East. I just think this matchup is closer than many might think – that there’s something to be said for Moyer’s experience and smarts, and Blanton’s ability to keep the ball down.

All that being said, I do have to give the Slight Edge to the RAYS.”

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Pheelin’ Kinda Down: Game 2 Thoughts

–The Phillies REALLY need to get a hit with men in scoring position. This is ridiculous.

–The umpires have shown (and that Fox Trax or Trak or whatever has shown) that they are frequently wrong and totally replaceable. Weirdly enough, I think the Rays could have won Game 1 if the calls had been correct, while the Phillies had a shot at Game 2.

–I still hate Tim McCarver as an announcer. He may be a good guy or a decent family man or a soup kitchen volunteer, but he brings me no information or entertainment as a broadcaster.

–Didn’t Jimmy Rollins learn to bunt a couple years ago or so? How about being a sparkplug and getting on base?

–Pat Burrell’s next/last big contract is getting smaller with every at-bat.

–Maybe a sports psychologist needs to talk to the hitters.

–Brett Myers wasn’t good, but he wasn’t horrible.

–I really hope the home-field advantage works for us. If you’re reading this and going to one of the games, scream your head off. It’s your duty.

–I’d love to see Charlie Manuel do something crazy like Rays manager Joe Maddon does. Like bat Ryan Howard leadoff to get him more at-bats.

–I have a hard time believing that NL players who have “played” DH in the past few World Series have batted less than .100. What is up with that?

–I really like Joe Maddon’s postgame press conferences. He always has something interesting to say. I couldn’t believe he admitted he really didn’t know what the Phillies team was all about. Did he not watch any SportsCenter or Baseball Tonight ever? No game films after winning the ALCS? No scouting reports? And yet, he’s perfectly calm and cool about it.

–I think that if the Phils are to win this Series, they have to sweep all three at home. And I’m not sure they can do that.

–Jamie Moyer needs to step it up in what could be the biggest game of his career.

–People are still sleepin’ on Joe Blanton. I have faith in Big Joe.

–Philadelphia is getting a nor’easter this Saturday. (Here in Texas, we’re getting 80 and sunny. Just so you know.)

Subjective Analysis: Phils/Rays in the WORLD SERIES.

Here it is. Could be another of the biggest moments in Philadelphia sports history, or just another colossal failure. (You’ll have to excuse me, Phillies fans have had their fill of futility. And yes, the alliteration is amazing.)

Once more into the Phray:

CATCHER

PHI: Carlos Ruiz

TB: Dioner Navarro

ANALYSIS: I’m especially biased on this, because I “owned” Navarro a few years back – BEFORE he began living up to his potential. (The guy’s only 24, I should have been easier on him.) Offensively, he is far superior to Ruiz. Defensively, they’re both pretty solid. Navarro and the RAYS get the edge here.

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FIRST BASE

PHI: Ryan Howard

TB: Carlos Pena

ANALYSIS: I have a feeling Howard will hit some BOMBS. Of course, at the two ballparks in question, many bombs are hit. Overall, these guys had kinda similar numbers…except for the Bombs, where Howard beats him handily. Howard gets the nod here for the PHILS.

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SECOND BASE

PHI: Chase Utley

TB: Akinori Iwamura

ANALYSIS: Although I love saying his name (or any other Japanese player’s name) out loud in a deep, booming voice, Iwamura just is not even close to the offensive force that Utley can be. Utley wins hands-down. Go PHILS.

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THIRD BASE

PHI: Pedro Feliz/Greg Dobbs

TB: Evan Longoria

ANALYSIS: I’d love to try to make the argument that the Feliz/Dobbs combo can almost equal Longoria, or that Longoria is due for a letdown. But I can’t. Advantage RAYS.

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SHORTSTOP

PHI: Jimmy Rollins

TB: Jason Bartlett

ANALYSIS: It was in this space of my Phils/Dodgers analysis that I picked Rollins over Furcal. Of course, I really didn’t foresee Furcal’s three errors in one inning that basically cost them the NLCS. Although Jimmy Rollins is a far better player, all the “experts” believe that Bartlett is the kind of guy who can/will make a crucial play or get a clutch hit to carry his team. Still, the PHILS have the edge here.

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LEFT FIELD

PHI: Pat Burrell

TB: Carl Crawford

ANALYSIS: CC wears my number (13), and he is one of the ultimate seven-tool players. (Not just the typical “five tools” that scouts love – Carl does it all and then some.) He was banged up near the end of the season, but he’s still better on many levels than Pat the Bat. RAYS win this one.

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CENTER FIELD

PHI: Shane Victorino

TB: B.J. Upton

ANALYSIS: Upton is also a seven-tool guy, whose power numbers this year were hurt by a lingering injury. But Victorino has had a magical ride the past month or so, and it’s hard to just say “Upton is superior.” He is, talent-wise, but when it comes to getting the j-o-b done, Shane-O-Vic is right there with him. Argh, this one hurts me physically, but Upton and the RAYS get the call here.

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RIGHT FIELD

PHI: Jayson Werth

TB: Rocco Baldelli/Gabe Gross

ANALYSIS: I’m a Werth-believer. I’m not Werth-y. I enjoy Werth-er’s Butterscotch Candies. (Enough!) I’ve got to take the 20/20 guy over a platoon including a guy battling a strange and awful disease (mitochondrial disorder?) and a guy whose offense doesn’t exactly scare people (.242 batting average with TB). Give this one to the PHILS.

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DESIGNATED HITTER

PHI: ??? (Dobbs, Jenkins, Stairs?)

TB: Willy Aybar/Cliff Floyd/Eric Hinske

ANALYSIS: Phils manager Charlie Manuel is not announcing his DH until the actual game, but it’ll likely be one of those guys above (or maybe Burrell, with Eric Bruntlett or Dobbs in left field). Aybar has been playing out of his mind for the past few weeks, and Floyd and Hinske are nice veteran role players who have some pop. This category has too many question marks, though, so I call it a TIE.

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STARTING PITCHER

PHI: Cole Hamels/Brett Myers/Jamie Moyer/Joe Blanton

TB: Scott Kazmir/Jamie Shields/Matt Garza/Andy Sonnanstine

ANALYSIS: The “experts” say Hamels is the best pitcher in the Series, and I agree. But I don’t agree with their assessments of the rest of these guys. They’re all over the Phils, saying they really have no depth beyond Hamels and that the Rays kids are flat-out awesome. Not taking anything away from them, they’re good and they faced tough competition all year in the AL East. I just think this matchup is closer than many might think – that there’s something to be said for Moyer’s experience and smarts, and Blanton’s ability to keep the ball down.

All that being said, I do have to give the Slight Edge to the RAYS.

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RELIEF PITCHER

PHI: Brad Lidge/Ryan Madson/J.C. Romero/Chad Durbin/Clay Condrey/J.A. Happ/Scott Eyre

TB: Troy Percival/Dan Wheeler/Trever Miller/J.P. Howell/Grant Balfour/Jason Hammel/David Price

ANALYSIS: Again, the “experts” are loving the fact that the Rays have three lefties, who will allegedly shut down the big lefty bats of Philly (Utley and Howard). And Price is this amazing wild card who will likely have an amazing career. But the Phillies’ bullpen has been and will be a great strength here, and deserves respect. PHILS get this one.

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BENCH

PHI: Greg Dobbs/Matt Stairs/Geoff Jenkins/Eric Bruntlett/So Taguchi/Chris Coste

TB: Floyd/Hinske/Aybar/Ben Zobrist/Jonny Gomes/Shawn Riggans/Fernando Perez

ANALYSIS: Dobbs is playing so well, there are people who want the Phils to let Burrell go away via free agency and play him every day in left. Stairs could be a great DH against righties (and so could Jenkins). But there is plenty of pop on the Rays bench, and some amazing speed in Perez. This one goes to the RAYS in a very close race.

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MANAGER

PHI: Charlie Manuel

TB: Joe Maddon

ANALYSIS: Uncle Cholly’s recently-passed mom is watching over this team, and he’s somehow managed to keep it all together and get to the Series. Maddon’s mom is watching from upstate Pennsylvania, and her boy is regarded as this kind of mad genius or rare intellectual who somehow completely inspires his young team. (Oh my, he drinks wine instead of beer! He reads books instead of magazines! Heavens to Murgatroyd!)

But seriously, this one is a TIE because each guy has done an amazing job this year, and Manuel’s occasional mistakes cancel out Maddon’s occasional crazy-looking moves (like a bases-loaded intentional walk).

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FINAL SCORE: Rays 6, Phillies 5, one tie.

FINAL ANALYSIS: I think it goes 6 or 7, and I think the RAYS win.

(P.S.: Reverse-jinx accomplished!)

“Subjective” Analysis: Phillies vs. Dodgers

Well, I was pretty dead-on with my Phils/Brewers blog. (Whodathunkit?)

So on we go to the National League Championship Series, facing the Los Angeles Dodgers – who incidentally are another of those teams that moved but kept the name, even though the name was used for a geographically-specific reason. (“Dodgers” had something to do with dodging trolleys in Brooklyn, the New Orleans Jazz made sense but not necessarily the Utah Jazz, etc.)

Anyway, here we go:

CATCHER

PHI: Carlos Ruiz/Chris Coste

LA: Russell Martin

ANALYSIS: Martin wins in a runaway landslide crush. He hits, he’s got power, he steals bases, he plays solid defense, and one of his middle names is Coltrane. Our boys lose this one to the DODGERS.

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FIRST BASE

PHI: Ryan Howard

LA: James Loney

ANALYSIS: Loney is a really good young player, but isn’t in the same league as Howard right now. PHILLIES get this one.

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SECOND BASE

PHI: Chase Utley

LA: Blake DeWitt (Jeff Kent?)

ANALYSIS: Even if you could somehow fuse Blake DeWitt and Jeff Kent together, you wouldn’t have half of Chase Utley. PHILLIES. (Of course, you’d have Bleff DeKent.)

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THIRD BASE

PHI: Pedro Feliz

LA: Casey Blake

ANALYSIS: Blake is a slightly better hitter, and I mean SLIGHTLY. Feliz is a much better defender. I’m feeling objective, so I’ll call this one a TIE. (Even though the Feliz/Greg Dobbs package is probably superior.)

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SHORTSTOP

PHI: Jimmy Rollins

LA: Rafael Furcal/Angel Berroa

ANALYSIS: If Furcal is at the top of his game, this is close. But he’s coming off a major injury, and I’m feeling subjective. I predict a PHILLIES win in this category for Jimmy, The Great Prognosticator.

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LEFT FIELD

PHI: Pat Burrell

LA: Manny Ramirez

ANALYSIS: Pat, I truly thank you for the two-homer day you had that helped defeat the Brewers. But I owned Manny Ramirez (fantasy-wise), and you, sir, are no Manny Ramirez. DODGERS get this one because Manny, in L.A., only batted .396 with 17 HR and 53 RBI in 53 games. Oh, and his OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) was over 1200, which is just plain sick.

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CENTER FIELD

PHI: Shane Victorino

LA: Matt Kemp

ANALYSIS: I root for Victorino. In fantasy, I own Kemp. And in reality, Kemp has more power and is probably a better hitter in general. Slight edge here to the DODGERS.

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RIGHT FIELD

PHI: Jayson Werth

LA: Andre Ethier

ANALYSIS: Werth showed off some big power with a couple homers in the NLDS, but Ethier is another great young Dodger outfielder who took his game up like 57 notches this year. He doesn’t run like Werth, but his on-base is an excellent .375. Another slight edge to the DODGERS.

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STARTING PITCHER

PHI: Cole Hamels/Brett Myers/Jamie Moyer/Joe Blanton

LA: Derek Lowe/Chad Billingsley/Hiroki Kuroda/Greg Maddux?

ANALYSIS: The Phillies’ starters did an unbelievable job (Hamels), a very good job (Myers), a solid job (Moyer), and an excellent job (Blanton) against the Brewers. The Dodgers’ starting pitching is a mixed bag: Lowe is the wily veteran who’s been there and back; Billingsley is the young power pitcher who was prone to walks as recently as last season (and kind of this season, with 80 BB); and Kuroda is the Japanese import (makes him sound like a car) who put up very solid numbers and is the kind of guy who kills the Phillies. I don’t know if Maddux is available, on the roster, or already back home in San Diego. If he’s there and somehow pitches, I’m sure he’ll shut down the Phillies with his mind-bending wizardry. Or they’ll pound him for seven runs.

All in all, I give a slight edge to the PHILLIES here.

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RELIEF PITCHER

PHI: Brad Lidge/Ryan Madson/J.C. Romero/Chad Durbin/Clay Condrey/J.A. Happ/Scott Eyre

LA: Takashi Saito/Jonathan Broxton/Joe Beimel/Cory Wade/Scott Proctor/Hong-Chih Kuo/Clayton Kershaw

ANALYSIS: Each team has some really good talent in the bullpen. And although Lidge is just plain dominant, he’s almost matched by the Saito/Broxton combination (Broxton should be an elite closer in a year or two). The Dodgers have some very good ERAs in Saito, (2.49), Beimel (2.02), Wade (2.27), Kuo (2.14) and some great strikeout arms in Saito (60K/47IP), Broxton (88K/69IP), Kuo (96K/80IP), and Kershaw (100K/107IP). Strikeout arms against a Phillies squad that likes to strike out = edge to the DODGERS. I just trust those last few names more than I trust Durbin/Condrey/Happ.

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BENCH

PHI: Greg Dobbs/Matt Stairs/Geoff Jenkins/Eric Bruntlett/So Taguchi/Coste (see Catchers above)

LA: Angel Berroa/Andruw Jones/Nomar Garciaparra/Delwyn Young/Chin-Lung Hu/Mark Sweeney

ANALYSIS: Seriously, this LA bench might be the worst bench in the history of benches – despite having (or because of?) huge names like Andruw and Nomar. PHILLIES in a runaway victory. If I’m Joe Torre, I pray every night that my lineup stays healthy.

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MANAGER

PHI: Charlie Manuel

LA: Joe Torre

ANALYSIS: Torre, hands-down. Both of these guys are loved by their teams, but Torre knows how to run a game and probably of more importance, has been to 674 World Series with the Yankees. DODGERS get the nod here.

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FINAL SCORE: Dodgers 5, Phillies 4, one tie.

Yikes, this will be a close one.

My brilliant season

(Pre-emptive apologies to non-fantasy baseball fans…you really have to be a participant to “get” most of these jokes, but you still might find some humor in there. At the very least, it’s a funny preview of my upcoming novel: “How to Finish 11th out of 14 in Fantasy Baseball.”

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Ah, 2008, I hardly knew ye. The fantasy baseball moves I made this season for my CBS Sportsline team, with 20/20 hindsight…

4/14 Add NFigueroa
–This is the kind of move that wins championships, folks.
4/21 Add GLaird, JHuber
–Again – a platoon catcher and a platoon OF. Going to be great in 2008!
4/21 Got RHill from Force for Adenhart/Pelfrey/KSuzuki
–Maybe one of the worst deals ever made. Hill flamed out horribly, and Force got a good prospect, a solid #3 SP and a decent C. First sign of a bad year?
4/23 Got JHermida from NYMeats for GGonzalez/BWood
–Ah, what a five-tool player I got. See how good he was by looking at what happened on 9/25 below. At least the guys I gave up didn’t do much.
4/23 Add Garland and AGalarraga, drop Huber
–Garland actually won a bunch for me, and Galarraga would have if I had been smart enough to hold onto him.
4/26 Add MValdez, drop GLaird
–Hello, crap. Goodbye, crap.
5/1 Add JJReyes
–No, I knew I wasn’t getting Jose Reyes. Jo-Jo was actually hot for a while before completely imploding.
5/7 Add Iannetta, drop NFigueroa
–One of the greatest “adds” of all time. (Or at least this season.)
5/7 Got CVillanueva from Roid Rage for BMolina
–Advantage: Roid Rage.
5/9 Got JHardy/Teagarden from Sioux for DlmYoung/Veal
–Kind of a wash. Hardy was really good this year, Teagarden looks to be good next year or in 2010. Delmon could be a superstar, though.
5/12 Add Werth and Marquis, drop AGalarraga
–Smart move, getting Werth. Dumb move, cutting Galarraga and also dumping Werth a mere three weeks later.
5/19 Add EdwRamirez
–What was I thinking?
5/21 Add Guardado, drop EdwRamirez and Marquis
–That’s better.
5/21 Got Hochevar/Meloan from B-12 for Guardado/BLyon
–This deal actually hurt both of us. Physically, emotionally and statistically. Maybe Hochevar can turn it around next year on an improving KC squad?
5/22 Drop RBetancourt
–Held onto him way too long, figuring he’d be the CLE closer.
5/25 Add Shouse
–Another Einsteinian move.
5/26 Got MBradley/Garko from Dirtbags for FRodriguez
–I’d say I got ripped off, but MBradley hit like crazy when he was healthy.
5/26 Add STorres, drop Shouse and Willits
–Plus, I somehow knew that Torres would reel off a bunch of saves.
5/31 Add RamRamirez
–What’s with me and Ramirezes? I had Edwar, Ramon, Alexei and Manny this year.
6/4 Add UJimenez, drop RamRamirez
–Nominee #2 for Harley Move of the Year. Not sure who cut Ubaldo, but thanks.
6/5 Add AlRamirez, drop Meloan
–Nominee #3 for Harley Move of the Year. I’m on a roll!
6/8 Drop Werth
–Oh, the roll ended.
6/9 Add JCarlson, drop DWillis
–Hello, crap. Goodbye, supercrap. I think between Verlander and Dontrelle, the DET pitching single-handedly killed my staff.
6/9 Got THunter/BMyers from Roid Rage for RHill/Ichiro
–Can’t blame Mark for giving up on Myers – the odds on him turning it around were like 167:1.
6/12 Drop JCarlson
–Hey, Jesse, I need to see you in my office. Oh, never mind, just pack your stuff, you’re cut.
6/20 Got Manny/RSoriano from Bonds for KGreene/THunter/PHughes
–OK, you’re thinking this was stupid. (And I’m finding it hard to argue.)
6/20 Add Maholm
–Hey Paul, welcome.
6/21 Add AlGonzalez, FPaulino
–Loading up my DL.
6/23 Add Burriss, drop Maholm
–Hey Paul, see you later.
6/26 Add HBailey, drop Burriss
–How the mighty have fallen.
7/1 Got Towles from Sluggers for HBailey
–And the mighty get traded. Crapped-out prospect for crapped-out prospect.
7/9 Add SGallagher, drop MValdez
–Hello, decent arm. Goodbye, hurt arm.
7/16 Drop AlGonzalez
–You know, Alex, you’re not even good enough for me to keep on the DL.
7/16 Got JBaker/CRay/Volstad from B-12 for Figgins/Helton
–If CRay comes back strong next year, this has to be one of my best trades. And I did it against Wes! (Of course, he was picking up “pieces” for his championship run – I was/am rebuilding.)
7/17 Add JBlanton, drop Garko
–Hopped on Fat Joe quickly, but gave up on him 10 days from now. Garko at this point can’t even hit as well as Orko, the wizard-guy from He-Man.
7/21 Drop JJReyes
–Oh Jo-Jo, your precipitous collapse was both unforeseen and unfortunate.
7/22 Drop Towles
–Maybe J.R. should stand for Just Rancid.
7/27 Add Ohman, drop Blanton
–Ah, bullpen help when you’re completely out of the running. That’s what I need.
7/29 Add Spilborghs and JuRivera, drop Owings
–Micah, we gave you a really long rope. And you hung yourself, so we’re cutting you and getting a couple useless OFs.
7/31 Drop Ohman
–Oh man.
8/3 Got Colvin/Lind/BWood from NYMeats for Uggla/SGallagher
–Gave up the boppin’ 2B for an interesting group of young’uns. We’ll see.
8/4 Add CHansen
–Former BoSox prospect getting a chance in PIT? OK!
8/6 Add Burriss, drop JuRivera
–Needing future SS more than OF…or so I thought.
8/11 Got HKendrick/Pie/JOSanchez from Dirtbags for Manny
–This deal was pulling teeth, and I really need these guys to live up to their potential in ’09 to feel good about it.
8/11 Drop Garland and Burriss
–Eh, who needs wins or a future SS?
8/27 Add FLopez, drop CHansen
–Former BoSox prospect getting a chance in PIT? Never mind. I’ll get the formerly great Felipe Lopez!
9/3 Drop FLopez
–Now I’ll cut him prematurely and let somebody else reap the benefits!
9/15 Add RCedeno and McPherson, drop Spilborghs and JBaker
–Just havin’ fun at this point.
9/17 Add Shealy, drop RCedeno
–KC’s next 1B? Not if my luck rubs off on him.
9/25 Add Maholm, drop Hermida
–Hey everybody, Paul’s back! What a way to finish a season! Oh, and goodbye Jeremy, you perennial prospect you.

This about sums it up.

This about sums it up.

“Subjective” Analysis: Phillies vs. Brewers

OK, tomorrow at some ridiculous time in the afternoon (hello? working people here?), my Phillies (92-70) will take on the Milwaukee Brewers (90-72) in Game 1 of their National League Divisional Series matchup.

Let’s go through the lineups and see who’s better:

CATCHER

PHI: Carlos Ruiz/Chris Coste

MIL: Jason Kendall

ANALYSIS: Ruiz’s bat was awful this year, but not much worse than the veteran Kendall. I don’t know if Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel would even think of putting the superior-hitting Coste in there…I doubt it. Call this one a TIE because neither side inspires confidence offensively or defensively.

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FIRST BASE

PHI: Ryan Howard

MIL: Prince Fielder

ANALYSIS: Both incredibly powerful young men capable of hitting the ball a country mile. (Still not sure if that’s longer than a regular mile.) Fielder had the higher batting average and less strikeouts, but Howard crushed him in HR and RBI. Gotta say the PHILLIES have the advantage here

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SECOND BASE

PHI: Chase Utley

MIL: Rickie Weeks

ANALYSIS: From a cursory glance, the only thing Weeks is better at statistically than Utley is stolen bases (by 5), and triples (by 3). Oh, and he had two more walks. Utley kills him in everything else, including defense. Advantage: PHILLIES.

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THIRD BASE

PHI: Pedro Feliz

MIL: Bill Hall

ANALYSIS: Offensively, yeesh. Feliz gets the nod because Hall just imploded as a hitter, and Feliz has a bit more pop. Defensively, Feliz is WAY better. One more for the PHILLIES.

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SHORTSTOP

PHI: Jimmy Rollins

MIL: J.J. Hardy

ANALYSIS: Always tough to be objective when you “own” someone on your fantasy team. I have Hardy, who was stellar this year. But Rollins steals more, is more of a sparkplug for the offense, and is probably the better defender. Yet again, PHILLIES.

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LEFT FIELD

PHI: Pat Burrell

MIL: Ryan Braun

ANALYSIS: I still don’t know what to think of Pat the Bat. At times, he’s looked like an awesomely talented hitter; the rest of the time, he flails at pitches like he’s hammered on Jager-bombs. Braun is also awesomely talented, but hasn’t had the craptacular slumps that ol’ Patty has. Finally, the first true BREWERS advantage.

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CENTER FIELD

PHI: Shane Victorino

MIL: Mike Cameron

ANALYSIS: The Flyin’ Hawaiian does a little bit of everything – he’s got some pop, great speed, good arm, and his last name sounds like a nice dish at a quaint Italian restaurant. (I’ll have the Pollo Victorino with the red sauce, please.) Mike Cameron does three things well – hits for power, steals bases and plays great defense. However, his batting average has never been over .273 (career average = .250), he strikes out way too much and his on-base percentage is kind of meager (.331). This is a close one, but I’ve got to go with the PHILLIES here.

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RIGHT FIELD
PHI: Jayson Werth

MIL: Corey Hart

ANALYSIS: Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Werth gets bonus points for having an extra “Y” in his name, and Hart gets bonus points for having the same name as the genius who brought us “I Wear My Sunglasses At Night.” Now that that’s taken care of, let’s get down to business. Each guy had a 20HR/20SB season, but Werth had a better batting average, MUCH better on-base percentage, and did it in 20 less games. I’m really intrigued to see what Werth will do with a full season next year. In the meantime, this one goes to the PHILLIES.

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STARTING PITCHER

PHI: Cole Hamels/Brett Myers/Jamie Moyer/Joe Blanton

MIL: Yovani Gallardo/CC Sabathia/Jeff Suppan/Dave Bush (Ben Sheets is out – hurt)

ANALYSIS: Cole Hamels is just plain awesome, and I’ve blogged about him previously. Come to think of it, I just blogged about Moyer too. Myers is an enigma, putting aside his tumultuous and contemptible personal life. He totally sucked for the first chunk of the season, went to the minors, and came back to pitch great. He faltered near the end of the season, though. Blanton is a big roly-poly dude who keeps the ball down – which is helpful at Citizens Bank Park.

On the other side, Gallardo is one of those “who’s he?” young guys who always kill the Phillies. Sabathia is crazygood. The other guys are journeymen veterans who are serviceable at best (another kind of guy who kills the Phils).

Put it all together, and if Hamels and Sabathia cancel each other out, it’s actually pretty even. There may be a slight edge to the Phils in reality, but I’m going to have to go with a TIE.

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RELIEF PITCHER

PHI: Brad Lidge/Ryan Madson/J.C. Romero/Chad Durbin/Clay Condrey/J.A. Happ/Scott Eyre

MIL: Salomon Torres/Eric Gagne/David Riske/Carlos Villanueva/Brian Shouse/Seth McClung

ANALYSIS: NL Comeback Player of the Year Brad Lidge leads a very strong bullpen – one that is given a lot of credit for the Phils’ success in 2008. (In fact, it’s the Phils’ good bullpen and the Mets’ lousy one that probably made the difference in each team’s fate this year.) Torres had a torrid second half as closer, until the final month when he probably tired. The rest of the Milwaukee ‘pen is a mixed bag – not a lot of big strikeout arms, but they’ve been mostly solid. Still, if a Phillies starter goes seven, it’s Madson, Lidge and lights out. I’m not sure the Brew Crew can look at their bullpen with such confidence. The vote goes to the PHILLIES.

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BENCH

PHI: Greg Dobbs/Matt Stairs/Geoff Jenkins/Eric Bruntlett/So Taguchi/Coste (see Catchers above)

MIL: Craig Counsell/Gabe Kapler/Russell Branyan/Ray Durham/Joe Dillon

ANALYSIS: This one is too close to call, seriously. Dobbs and Kapler had great seasons off the bench, there are some other valuable pieces on each side (Jenkins’ and Stairs’ pop, Taguchi’s speed, Branyan’s pop, Durham’s and Counsell’s experience, etc.). Phils might have an advantage, but it’s slight, so I’ll call it a TIE in case I’m biased. (Ha!)

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MANAGER

PHI: Charlie Manuel

MIL: Dale Sveum

ANALYSIS: Say what you (or I) will about Manuel being an inconsistent in-game manager or a could-be-better press conference-giver, he gets his boys to play hard, play well, and win ballgames. Hard to critique Sveum since he’s only been the manager for like a month – but all reports from trusted sources (ESPN) say that the players dig him. And he did guide them to the postseason, which is more that can be said for Jerry Manuel and his Mets. Still, experience and long-term results give the advantage here to the PHILLIES.

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FINAL SCORE: Phillies 8, Brewers 1, three ties.

Bring on the Cubs?